Saturday, March 12, 2011

Shopping List

What is so scientific and methodical about choosing which clothespin to buy? Simple spring loaded clips which help you fasten the clothes to a clothesline. Mother wanted wooden ones. "Who uses wooden pegs in this time and era?", thought Raman. In case the wooden ones were not available, the plastic ones had to be sturdy, flat, have a long coil and be in muted colours. Cheap coloured ones left imprints on clothes in the summer, or so he had been instructed.

Shopping for household things was a bane. However much he searched or bargained, mother would always say,"Oh this is available for half the price" or not be happy with his purchase anyway. Where was the point in sending him to the market??

The only reason he was always willing to step out for buying these mundane inane things was that he could finish buying them fast and meet his sweetheart Tanu. The vegetable shops were such a convenient place to be seen together without anyone raising an eyebrow . Setting up these clandestine meetings was the best part. This was their first year of college. School was fun. They met everyday. Why did girls have to have a mind of their own these days? Why couldn't she join the University just like him? They had extra classes in the afternoon. They could bunk a few and be together. But no, she had to go and join an all girls degree college!

Questions, questions and more questions. His mind was full of them. Some intelligent, some forced. He couldn't fathom why wisdom was always associated with the older lot.

He picked up the plastic clips. There was time to kill before she arrived so he searched and picked up a few other things on the shopping list. Mom would be happy. This list had been pending for quite some time. He seldom bought home the complete list. There were always a few things that he couldn't find or weren't good enough. That happened when Tanu arrived before or on time.

This gave him a sense of adulthood, however false though. He did with ease what most men found difficult. He had cracked the empirical formula to keep wives and mothers happy at the same time.

All that was left was to get a new clothes line and the list would be done.

He called her to check how long she would take.

"Kavita Calling", flashed Tanu's cellphone.
She smiled.

"Where are you", he asked.
" I have been waiting near the saladwala for past ten minutes. Where are you?", she asked in return.

This was rare. She reaching before time. But it wasn't impossible so he rushed and started walking fast. He forgot all about the rope.

They met on borrowed and stolen time. A cord could be bought later but no amount of money could get him back the moments he would miss out if he reached late.

It was a wonderful Sunday afternoon. Thick of winters ensured that everyone was buried under heaps of clothing which made it difficult for people to recognise each other. The monkey caps and shawls added to the disguise. They were free to walk hand in hand without any fear. Oh what bliss to be a teenager in love!

An hour flew by in minutes.

He was late. He rushed back. By the time he reached home it was 2:00 pm.

Mother was setting up the table for lunch. There is something about mothers wanting their children to eat well. They can never scold them at mealtime. As soon as he walked in, she asked him to wash his hands and feet and call everyone for lunch.

It struck him that today was the weekly laundry day. Mother washed heavy washloads. Bedsheets, sweaters, table covers. She was saving up to buy a washing machine in the new year.

He ran to the terrace.

He saw what he feared the most. Two rows of freshly washed clothes were lying on the ground smeared with dust and dirt. The clothesline was the first thing he should have bought. The old one was knotted at many places, holding up on sheer will power and luck. It had breathed its last this quiet afternoon.

He came downstairs with a heavy heart. Mother smiled and poured dollops of buttered dal in a bowl for him. He didn't have the heart to tell her what he saw. He just nibbled on some salad. He wasn't hungry anymore.


  1. :) nice! such a simple thing...written beautifully!

  2. simple things shape what we become...thanks anagha :)

  3. Nice story... men's dilemma is captured very well :-)

  4. Wow....a nice story, something all of us have gone through as a teenager I guess...not the clothesline, but the situation for sure...

  5. savita n cat :) thx for reading....yes these are things we have all gone thru :)

  6. You write awesome, I was looking for some light hearted short stories and yours are amazing.
    Keep writing and I saw your photograph you are beautiful.